Horowitz on Making a Mess and Fixing it

This is a glimpse at some ideas that we will be teaching in a course here in Tartu next month on building “vitality” as a matter of strategic choice making. Enjoy!

Uber successful VC Ben Horowitz has a book out called The Hard Thing about Hard Things“. I have not read it yet and I am not sure that I will. Bu this quote from TechCrunch caught my eye

By far the most difficult skill I learned as a CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology. Organizational design, process design, metrics, hiring and firing were all relatively straightforward skills to master compared with keeping my mind in check. I thought I was tough going into it, but I wasn’t tough. I was soft. (emphasis added)

This is brutally honest writing that you don’t see very often these days. In fact, most of us are focused on going the opposite direction – making things easier instead of becoming tougher. Most of us crave the comfort of self-assurance as a lifestyle.

Which reminds of of a story about Cary Grant. One day a fan shouted out to Cary “I wish I could be Cary Grant!” Grant shouted back “Me too!” The actor craved the elusive self-assurance of the characters he played just as much as his fans did. Neither actor nor fans were satisfied with who they actually were.

Csikszentmihalyi talked quite a bit about this problem in his book “Flow“. He criticizes modern culture for its relentless messaging about ease and convenience. This messaging, he argues, is subversive. It puts us to sleep just at moments in life when we need to be awake in order to live more fully. Let’s assume that Csikszentmihalyi is right and we need that toughness that Horowitz talks about. We need to wake up. Where do we start?

Good question. The first step is to re-assess what “happiness” is all about. I will pick up on this theme in my next post. Onward!


One thought on “Horowitz on Making a Mess and Fixing it

  1. Pingback: Neo Instituationalism | Take Five

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